notes from Chanel Williams, ’16 on her research in Hamburg during the summer
During my time in Hamburg, Germany I took a course that focused on the creation of expatriate culture in Hamburg. During this course I interviewed expatriates working at science and business corporations in Hamburg. These expatriates were from America, Italy, The Philippines as well as other countries. The expatriates that I interviewed provided information on how they integrated into Hamburg society. They offered examples of socializing with their colleagues outside of the work environment and going to festivals such as Hamburg’s Port Anniversary. Although some expatriates created social connections with Hamburg residents, others had stronger social ties with family and friends from their home country. Social media provided these expatriates with the ability to stay in touch with their family and friends located thousands of miles away.
Based on the information received from these expatriates, a Bryn Mawr student and I were able to construct a potential theory about the social interactions of these expatriates. This theory, called the Williams, McCabe Triangle, suggested that there were three major social groups for expatriates and that most expatriates living in Hamburg utilized two of these social groups, but rarely all three. These three social groups were coworkers and friends living in Hamburg, friends contacted through social media, and business contacts from the expatriate’s home country. Evidence from our expatriate interviews shows that most expatriates were a part of social groups in Hamburg and on social media but did not remain strongly connected with their colleagues in their home country. The few expatriates that did remain in touch with their colleagues back home were not as invested in the social atmosphere in Hamburg and used social media as their second means of communication. Being able to remain in contact with people from home and the ease of accessing social media anywhere in the world shows how the internet and social media are making the world a more interconnected place. This course on expatriates has given me a deeper understanding on the globalization that is occurring and how business people are using this globalization to their advantage.